Man United transfer targets? Jules Kounde, Victor Osimhen, Declan Rice among players who would improve the team

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With Manchester United a long way from reclaiming the Premier League trophy they almost took for granted, the club’s struggles to crack the top four this season suggests it will take more than a few transfers to catch up with the likes. of Liverpool and Manchester City.

However, the United squad need quality reinforcements as soon as possible and to compete with Europe’s top flight again they need to bring in proven talent who can perform immediately. They’ll need deep pockets for transfer fees and wages, but paying extra for established stars who can make an immediate impact is more cost-effective than a cheaper alternative that won’t offer much improvement over what they already have.

With that in mind, here are six players, aged 23 or younger, who would immediately strengthen the Man United squad. (All transfer values ​​are from Transfermarkt.)

Age: 23 years old
Position: Centre-back/right-back
Club: Sevilla

With Chelsea out of the running as Russian owner Roman Abramovich’s assets have been frozen by the UK government, this summer could be the perfect time for United to move to Kounde as his contract expires in 2024.

For a team that struggles to play at the back because their current defensive line hasn’t been purpose-built, Koundé would be an ideal acquisition. Few top European centre-backs can match the France international’s ability to pick the right pass under pressure, and Sevilla have set up their squad based on their eagerness to get the ball out of the defense and join higher on field.

In the defensive phase, his mental alertness and his ability to read the danger allow him to make early interceptions. Although he’s still relatively inexperienced in the position, there’s also no reason why Kounde couldn’t perform at a high level at right-back as well. United’s defensive problems don’t stop at the core of defense and it may prove useful to sign a versatile player who can also help on the right.

Sevilla may want to move closer to €80m, but United should be able to negotiate that drop, or add a player like winger Anthony Martial (who is on loan at Sevilla) to the deal.

Age: 23 years old
Position: Centre-back/right-back
Club: Barcelona

While Kounde is a stylish defender who rarely goes to the ground to win the ball, Araujo is more of a ‘whatever it takes’ type. Since making his Barcelona debut in the summer of 2020, the Uruguay international has come a long way and flourished since Xavi took over.

From being shy and sometimes clumsy with the ball, especially under pressure, Araujo learned to adapt his passing game to his own limits, often opting for the safe option of playing in wide areas instead of the crowded middle. The quick, brave and physically tough defender is perhaps more comfortable as a right-back in a back four, rather than as one of the three centre-backs, as he showed during the 4-0 victory against Real Madrid. weekend.

His headed goal The classic also provided a fine example of its immense aerial capability; his excellent jumping and heading technique make him extremely useful on defensive and attacking set pieces. Araujo’s contract with Barcelona expires at the end of next season and, although he is likely to sign an extension given his impact under Xavi, United could smell an opportunity to land him at a reduced price as the financial problems at Camp Nou continue. .

Age: 23 years old
Position: Defensive midfielder
Club: West Ham

Fast approaching his 160th Premier League appearance, Rice is already one of the country’s elite defensive midfielders. Since his debut in 2016, there has been such constant development in his tactical, physical and technical abilities that it’s hard to pinpoint an obvious flaw in his game.

Primarily praised for his defensive contributions – winning the ball, protecting centre-backs, breaking up play and keeping it simple when in possession – Rice has become more positive in his passing game and now carries the ball more forward . The fact that he’s started virtually every game since becoming a regular in 2018, and never gets substituted every time there’s something at stake, shows just how much of a player he’s become. regular player.

While West Ham’s Champions League ambitions mean Rice won’t be an easy bargain, paying a premium for the England international may ultimately be a wise strategy – especially as, despite Fred’s improved form, United really need a quality No.6 to inject some steel and strength back into their midfield.

Age: 22 years old
Position: Defensive midfielder
Club: Monegasque

If Rice proves too expensive or difficult to sign, it could be worth United switching their attention to Monaco’s hugely talented midfielder. Tchouameni showcases a skill set not too far off from the West Ham man and recent reports suggest he could be made available this summer, with Bayern Munich and Real Madrid also interested.

The France international was exceptional in Monaco’s 3-0 home win over Paris Saint-Germain at the weekend. He dominated the midfield as a traditional “No. 6” and won 80% of his challenges, while denying space to Marco Verratti and Leandro Paredes, as well as playing reasonable and measured passes (accuracy of 95%).

Arguably Monaco’s most important player, Tchouameni can dominate midfield but would have no problem replacing the centre-back (in a back three or four).

Age: 23 years old
Position: Striker
Club: Napoli

With Manchester United strikers Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani nearing the end of their careers, Marcus Rashford out of form and Mason Greenwood suspended after his recent arrest, the club are struggling for depth up front.

United are apparently out of the running for Europe’s two top young scorers this summer – Haaland and Mbappe – and there are few centre-forwards who come with a goal guarantee in today’s market.

Osimhen, however, is developing into a top-notch striker, although he hasn’t reached peak physical condition all season due to injuries. Napoli signed the Nigeria international for €70m from Lille in the summer of 2020 and he has scored 25 goals in 55 games since. The Italian club are unlikely to let him leave for less than €100m given he still has three years left on his contract, but his development trajectory could make it a bargain.

Already blessed with the ability to get past high defensive lines, Osimhen has developed his poaching instincts and talent for picking the right spaces in the penalty area. Granted, there is still work to be done on his heist game – he needs to be more involved in the build-up phase – but he has become more diligent in his pressing duties under Luciano Spalletti and has become a growing target for crosses, often making the most of his remarkable jumping ability.

Age: 22 years old
Position: Striker
Club: Benfica

Still in the works, the Uruguay international enjoyed a breakthrough season in the Portuguese league and is currently the top scorer with 20 goals in 22 appearances. Nunez also impressed in Europe with four goals in eight games and scored the all-important goal that saw Benfica knock out Ajax to progress to the Champions League quarter-finals.

A €24m signing from Almeria in 2020, the 6ft 2in striker is still a bit rough around the edges and his passing can be sloppy, but it’s his continued development and unconventional technique that make it exceptionally exciting. His choice of positioning in the build-up phase is unorthodox at times – he often disconnects from the rest of the team to do his own thing – but he can score from a wide variety of positions and the fact that he touches Targeting up close to 60% of his shots is particularly impressive.

When he faces goal, however, Nunez really comes to life, using his speed, strength, power and balance to punch through on goal. However, his transfer fee is growing almost as fast as his progress – with Benfica reportedly ready to reject any offer below €80m – so it might be wise for United to make a move for him sooner rather than later.

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